Contact: Gina Lauterio
Sexual Assault Ruling at UCSD Could Ripple Across U.S.
WASHINGTON / July 23, 2015 – A recent judicial ruling in favor of a California student accused of sexual assault could have an impact on colleges and universities across the country. The ruling could have “tremendous pervasive influence on other courts,” according to University of Pennsylvania professor Amy Wax.
The ruling involved two University of California–San Diego students who met at a party and later engaged in two sexual encounters. The complainant admitted the second encounter was consensual, but claimed the first was not.
In his decision, Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman concluded, “Ms. Roe admitted that she voluntarily continued consensual sexual activity with Mr. Doe later that very same day…The sequence of events do not demonstrate non-consensual behavior.”
Concluding “the hearing against petitioner was unfair,” Judge Pressman also found serious procedural flaws in the university’s handling of the case. First, the campus tribunal allowed “only nine of [the accused’s] thirty-two questions” to be posed to the woman. Second, the complainant was “placed behind a barrier during the proceedings” which tended to remove the presumption of innocence. Third, an appeal of the campus committee’s decision resulted in the imposition of even stronger sanctions, an action the judge deemed to be unfairly “punitive.”
“Campus sexual assault is a serious problem that calls for a criminal justice response,” notes SAVE spokesperson Sheryle Hutter. “Reducing sexual assault to a dispute over nuanced interpretations of sexual consent does a profound disservice to victims of a violent sexual attack.”
Judge Pressman’s ruling can be read here: http://documents.latimes.com/uc-san-diego-sex-assault-case-ruling-doe-vs-regents-uc-san-diego/
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is working to promote effective solutions to campus sexual assault: http://www.saveservices.org/